Tag Archives: Summit Entertainment

JESSE EISENBERG TALKS ROLE THAT HELPED HIM OVERCOME STAGE FRIGHT

If you’ve caught the trailers for “Now You See Me,” Summit Entertainment’s May 31 release caper-thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Isla Fisher, you’ve gotten a taste of the thrillingly in-control magician Eisenberg portrays. Surprisingly, the hot 29-year-old star tells us that he hoped to overcome a case of stage fright by playing such a cool character.

“What happened for me was that I was doing a play that I’d written in downtown New York and I was having a lot of stage fright. I was very nervous about the show and about performing on stage every night,” recalls Eisenberg, referring to his The Revisionist with Vanessa Redgrave earlier this year. “And then I read this script and the character they wanted me to play was the most confident performer in the world. So I thought that was exactly what I needed to do to get over my fear of performing. I thought this was such a fun character.”

The Oscar-nominated (“The Social Network”) actor says that when he spoke to director Louis Leterrier about the feature, “He told me his vision for the acting and I thought, ‘Hm, he’s right on.’ He wanted to take it seriously. So even though there is a very complicated plot in the movie, all the acting was treated very realistically. It was kind of a perfect opportunity to do something like this.”

And sure enough, he learned to love performing onstage as his character. “When you force yourself to love doing it, you find that you do,” he says.

Seriously? You can force yourself to love doing something?

“Well, as an actor, I should think so. Once I commit to enjoying something, I typically enjoy it,” answers Eisenberg. “You know, because you try to.” He pauses, thinks, says, “mm” — a typical Eisenberg conversational pattern that lets one know he’s not just fluffing off his answer, then he resumes. “You make a decision to enjoy it and then you find little things about it that are enjoyable. You find ways to enjoy it, like changing your interactions with the audience or with the other performers to keep it fresh each time.”

And things obviously worked out well for The Revisionist — Eisenberg reveals that they’ll be doing the play again next year for “a wider audience,” his low-key way of saying his acclaimed play is on track for a Broadway run.

Eisenberg found mastering sleight of hand to be the most difficult part of the “Now You See Me” job, as did the other actors called upon to do professional-level magic tricks for the film in which they play a band of young prestidigitators who rob from the rich and give to their adoring audiences. “My character has to be perfectly proficient. He’s been practicing this for 20 years, eight hours a day. It was very difficult to do in the short amount of time we had.”

He says he never worried about any cheesiness creeping into their magician-filled story, as some others have talked about. “Not really — mm — because I don’t think I can do that. Not because I’m so great. It’s just I don’t know how to,” he says, of being cheesy. “I knew they planned to hire all these great actors who come from films. I guess I was the first one to sign on and the director told me who he would like to be in each of these roles and I was so excited by the prospect of each of these people doing it. And then, they did. It turned into a really wonderful ensemble.”

It also gave him the chance to reunite with his old “Zombieland” chum, Harrelson, who plays a rather scary hypnotist. “That was ideal,” Eisenberg says. “We have such a great working realtionship. It was kind of nice to explore a different dynamic in this film — more of a competitive dynamic than ‘Zombieland.’ We have such a great rapport, I hope we do more different things together.”

Eisenberg and some of his cast mates will be going city to city this week as they beat the promotional drums for “Now You See Me.” Ahead, he has a lineup of films including “The Double,” in which he plays a man who goes insane when he discovers his doppelganger — and the thriller “Night Moves.”

Asked whether he’s keeping up on his sleight of hand arts, Eisenberg says no. “I would like to; the problem is that after the movie ended I did another movie in England and had to immerse myself in that movie which was very different, so I kind of lost the skills I had been practicing for a few months. That’s the problem with the nature of the work I do.”

But for all that intense work on and off set, Eisenberg says his energy’s good. “I still have my knees,” he dead pans. “I’m trying to work as far as they’ll take me.”

Wes Bentley, Fresh Career Momentum, Happiness — Stark Contrast to Whitney Houston Story

Wes Bentley

With a string of high-profile movies on the way — including Summit Entertainment’s “Gone” thriller that opens Friday (2/24) — Wes Bentley has built up a wave of fresh career momentum.  He has a wife and a one-year-old son he adores at home.  He looks great.  Life is good.   It’s hard to believe that between 2002 and 2009, the actor who rocketed to fame with the 1999 “American Beauty” hit the depths of addiction — alcohol, cocaine, heroin.

Coming off a week of following the sad news of Whitney Houston’s death, talking with Bentley has an alternate universe feeling about it.

“It’s upsetting,” he says, asked about the late pop icon.  “I can’t speak to exactly where she was, but probably in a sad place.  Doing that to yourself means you still haven’t found the right support or settled the emotions in yourself you need to settle.  That kind of unrest is difficult to live with.”

Has he settled his own unrest?

“I have a great support system, and I have certain programs to help me,” he replies.  “There’s a big barrier between me and my vices — a lot of phone numbers of people I can call, a child and family.  There are a lot of reasons between me and falling back into that again.”

Bentley went public with his own story in 2010, telling of the years he barely worked and spent his time in clubs, hotel rooms, and drug dens.  To see where he is now can offer a positive example for others trying to break the addiction cycle.  “I hope so,” he says.  “That’s the only reason I ever talked about it.”

That and, as he’s admitted, to help get his career going again.

The actor is in the much-anticipated March 23 release adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s novel, “The Hunger Games” — complete with an elaborately-defined beard that won its own fan following thanks to the trailer and advance publicity.

Now he has “Gone,” playing a police detective dealing with Amanda Seyfried’s character, a woman racing against time to rescue her sister from a serial killer.  “I was attracted to this for a number of reasons — I’m a fan of (director) Heitor Dhalia, and also Amanda.  I love working with her,” Bentley says. “And I like stories that empower women.”

Their scenes are intense, but, “We were laughing between scenes all the time,” Bentley says.  “Amanda is funny.  There’s a scene where I ask her to give me her number so I can get in touch with her — she typed in the number 1.  She also introduced me to the honeybadger video while we were on that shoot.”

Bentley is also in Seyfried’s forthcoming “Lovelace” movie about porn superstar Linda Lovelace, playing the photographer who did the poster for ‘Deep Throat.'”

“It’s a great scene.  He’s one of the more sensitive men to her in the story,” the actor says.

He’s currently shooting the apocalyptic Western-thriller “The Time Being” with Frank Langella, “who I just love.  We get along great together.  We’re kindred spirits, and very similar actors.  It could be a pretty heavy movie, and we both like to joke around right up to the point of action, and then we’re both very focused and prepared.  It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Bentley feels he’s found balance in his life.  The celebrity that once overpowered him is no longer an issue.  “I feel like I always wanted to do good work, and I’m doing that.  I’m staying focused on the core of what is important to me — my family and being a good person.  The rest is, you know, just another part of life.  I don’t let it overwhelm me anymore.  I’ve definitely seen a lot, gone through a lot — and no uncomfortable feeling with fame can compare to the stuff I’ve been uncomfortable with in life.”